Life is pretty sweet before 30.
Second helping of dessert? Well…. YES PLEASE. Rolled an ankle during your pickup game? Give it a few days rest and you’ll be good as new. Want a six pack? Work hard, stay diligent, and in about 3 months you’ll be pretty damn close to looking like a cover model.
From a purely physical point of view, life in your teens and twenties is AWESOME.
But once you hit 30, mother nature tends to slap a lot of us squarely in the face.
You see, once you celebrate your 30th birthday (more like your 25th-30th), your body has peaked in many aspects. Your bones no longer grow, your cartilage that was oh-so-resilient starts to calcify, and body fat just seems to accumulate much more easily than it used to. As if this wasn’t bad enough, basically everything from a mental and physical standpoint steadily declines with every passing year.
After 30, you’re gonna get weaker, slower, fatter, and less mobile…unless you do something about it! Here are 3 things you NEED to start doing after you turn the big 3-0 (and ideally before it).
#1. Perform a daily mobility routine.
Over time, your muscles are going to naturally become weaker and your joints less mobile. If left unchecked, you will all but lose the ability to express full ranges of motion in your various joints simply because you neglected to do so in prior years.
Remember, when it comes to range of motion at your joints, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.
If your days consist mostly of sitting and rarely exercising, your brain and body will adapt accordingly. Before you know it, you’ll become immobile and tight because, well, your brain has essentially deemed any position outside of sitting and laying on the couch ‘unnecessary’, so to speak. Why work to keep a huge range of motion available to you when a small one will suffice your day to day needs? Work smart, not hard, right?
Your body will always work to take the path of least resistance… even if that path isn’t so good for you. This means based on your daily activities, certain muscles can become stuck in shortened positions and others become weak in lengthened positions. All of this adds up to you likely running into nagging aches and pains down the road because your body adapted to being in one position and posture all the time.
So in order to offset these less than desirable changes, a daily mobility routine is highly recommended for folks in their later years. Take your joints through whatever ranges they have available to them regularly. Internal rotation, external rotation, retraction, protraction, flexion, extension, abduction, adduction… do ’em all!
Some things you can include in your mobility routine can be foam rolling, breathing drills, static stretching, stability exercises like plank variations, movements that isolate single joints, and bodyweight exercises taking you through different planes of movement you don’t normally experience, such as a lateral squat.
Now there are precisely 3.7 million exercises and movements you can do for mobility, but the point we’re trying to drive home remains the same. Start prioritizing your mobility! If you’re still wondering what to possibly do, click here to watch a few mobility routine examples.
#2. Eat like an adult.
Age ain’t nothing but a number… yeah, yeah we get that. But let’s be real for a minute. You’re not a kid anymore. It’s time to put down the Dunkaroos, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and all other foods that come with a cartoon as its spokesperson. Foods that come in a cardboard box or shrink wrapped in plastic are usually loaded with sugar, refined carbs, and loads of other bad-for-you crap. You may have been able to somehow digest this as a kid with seemingly no ill effects, but that likely won’t fly anymore.
In your twenties, you probably could get away with eating 6 donuts in a sitting and not notice or feel it the next day. Well, good luck doing that in your thirties and beyond! Your metabolism is steadily on the decline and you need to start fueling your body to reflect that.
Your body is meant to run on real, whole, foods that come from nature. If you can’t grow it, pick it, or kill it, you probably shouldn’t be eating it as an adult (or ever, really). This means your diet should start to include a heavy rotation of vegetables, fruits, meats, seafood, nuts, and anything else that fits the grow/pick/hunt criteria.
Sugar and processed foods have a pretty detrimental effect on your body, and this only worsens as you age. Not only will it make you fatter, but it raises your risk for succumbing to a bunch of diseases, affects your mental clarity, increases inflammation in your body, and basically slowly and steadily poisons you if you consume it on a regular basis.
An occasional treat is fine, but don’t let this stuff constitute a large chunk of your diet.
#3. Train for hypertrophy.
One of the more detrimental effects father time has on our bodies is that our muscles will naturally atrophy, or shrink, as we age. This isn’t ideal as it will inevitably lead to decreased metabolism, decreased strength, inability to express power (move quickly), increased risk for injuries, and an increased likelihood to store body fat.
^ our thoughts exactly.
But the good news is this is all very preventable if you choose to do something about it. Our bodies are just like cars in the sense that if you take the time to do some preventative maintenance, you can likely avoid those “sweet mother of all that is holy that’s gonna cost me” moments.
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Knowing this, you want to hang onto muscle mass as best you can as you age. The good news is that even though your body is slowly on the decline after 30, it’s still highly responsive to demands placed upon it. This means that if you strength train past 30 (or 40, 50, 60…), you’ll still likely build lean muscle mass and gain strength. This is great because increased muscle mass helps offset all those detrimental effects mentioned in the first paragraph.
Think of lean muscle mass as an attainable fountain of youth. The less you lose over time, the better you’ll look, feel, and move, guaranteed. Sounds like a win on all fronts if you ask us.
So without sugar coating it, strength training for hypertrophy is a MUST after 30. Your quality of life will decrease over time without it.
Here are some guidelines to follow in order to optimize hypertrophy.
Focus on compound lifts (movements that include multiple joints moving simultaneously) like squats, deadlifts, rows, and pushups.
The ideal rep/set scheme for hypertrophy is usually 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions. Aim to have a bulk of your training take place in this range.
Every once in a while, include some heavier training (3-6 reps per set) in your program as this will also help induce hypertrophy or break through plateaus.
Challenge yourself appropriately. If your goal is to complete 10 reps in a set, make sure the 10th rep is challenging. If you stop at 10 but are able to complete 20, you’re not strength training.
Try to give yourself 48-72 hours of recovery in between training sessions that involve the same movement patterns as this will give your muscles ample time to recover.
Start making these 3 things a priority, and we promise life will get better. Food will taste better. Colors will appear more vibrant.
Ok, maybe not. But it definitely won’t hurt!